Al Kratz
February 2016 Second Prize

You Have So Many More Choices Than Fight Or Flight

by Al Kratz

When you encounter a bear in the woods, lock arms with a friend. Make yourselves appear stronger. Transform into a collective self. When they ask how little girls like you survived the bear, shrug your unlocked shoulders and agree: isn’t it a wonder?

Just in case, hang out with stronger people. Maybe that guy from your co-ed softball team with the tattoo on his neck. It might feel counter-intuitive, but don’t confuse the number of fights you will witness with the number of fights you will be in. Just don’t fall in love with the tattoo man.

When you fall in love with the tattoo man, and your mother whispers to everyone that her son-in-law is in jail over a little fireworks thing, tell her, Mom, it wasn’t firecrackers—he’s in prison for making bombs. You’re neither fighting your mother nor fleeing the truth—you’re standing your ground.

When you encounter a carpenter bee in the woods, be still. The male has no stinger. It’s safe to call his bluff. The female only stings when provoked. As she flies around your head, repeat to yourself: she’s not really a bee, she’s not really a bee, she’s not really a bee.

When you lose your wedding ring in the woods, let it be. This is the universe singing for you. Listen to all she has to say. You don’t have to fight or run from the universe. You have so many more choices than that.

When you divorce the tattoo man, testify how so many things aren’t even worth fighting for. It’s not fight or flight if you don’t care who you’re getting away from or where you’re going to. You’ve seen birds. Sometimes flying is just for the sake of flying.

About the Author

Al KratzAl Kratz lives with his girlfriend in Indianola, Iowa where he is working on a short story collection. He is a reader for Wyvern Lit and writes fiction reviews for Alternating Current. He won the 2013 British Fantasy Society Flash Fiction contest and has had work in Literary Orphans, Third Point Press, Spelk, Red Savina Review, and others.

Blogs at and tweets @silverbackedG.

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